The Mirror

CNN ‘Reliable Sources’ Had 11 Black Guests In 6 Months

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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CNN has been wrestling with outside criticism from minority groups. Engage? Cut them off? Ignore? A closer look at the weekend media show, “Reliable Sources,” hosted by Brian Stelter, isn’t going to make the situation any better.

The Daily Caller‘s Mirror blog studied the last six months worth of guests. The results are as follows: 11 black guests in 6 months. In other words, 11 guests out of 146 guests were black. That means that approximately 7.5 percent of all guests who appeared on the program hosted by Brian Stelter were black. Not all the black guests were even journalists. One was a member of Congress, another an actor, and still another, a Ferguson, Mo. activist (granted, it would’ve been hard to make him white).

CNN has recently been getting hammered on its perceived dismal diversity practices. The National Association of Black Journalists condemned their treatment of black employees. CNN didn’t take it like a bunch of wusses. In response, the network pulled requested funding for an NABJ jobs fair. Which prompted Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, to surprising get involved in a media brawl. She issued a statement expressing concern about the recent layoffs that have negatively impacted the network’s African American employees.

“Particularly concerning are reports that these layoffs have significantly reduced the number of African Americans in senior and executive roles in the company’s flagship news organization, CNN,” she wrote.

According to network insiders who spoke to The Mirror on condition of anonymity, CNN’s Washington bureau is comprised of staffers that can hardly be considered racially diverse. “The bookers, producers in DC are awful. And they have no diversity on their staffs,” said a source familiar with the situation.

But others weren’t as, er, black and white about it.

“I think they always try to book the best guests,” said an insider, explaining that both the host and the audience get accustomed to seeing certain people appear on the program. “I’ve been in those meetings. I don’t think it’s malicious.” If anything, the onus is on the executive producer.”

When told about the results of the 6-month assessment, Bob Butler, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, remarked, “Well, let me say that CNN is not the only network that has this issue. They all admit they can do better.” Of the specific numbers of black guests on “Reliable Sources” he said, “I would hope there could be more. …We expect networks to reflect the communities that they serve.”

The Mirror requested comment from CNN.

This insider stressed that “they want to make sure if the person is a talking head that they actually talk. They don’t want to bring on a newbie. You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Good TV. Good content. No dead air. At CNN, if you can talk and make sense and have smart things to say, they are going to give you that chance.”

But it’s hard to break in.

Diversity is absolutely discussed in editorial meetings, sources told The Mirror. But it’s tough — EP’s get comfortable with who they know.

“CNN tries and is cognizant of it regarding the guests,” the insider said regarding diversity matters.

But if a new guest screws up, everyone’s angry.

Mimicking what happens if a new guest fails, the insider said, “Why didn’t you know she was a fucking idiot? What the fuck? Don’t ever send me that shit again. The executive producer decides all.”

Sources said diversity has been much tougher under the leadership of network President Jeff Zucker. But there is also the sense that ratings are a fair concern: “They’re worried about ratings. I don’t think there’s a mandate. They could do a better job. I would give them a C+. They’re clearly capable of getting an A.”

What about the hosts? Don’t they have an input on the diversity of the guests? “The hosts are pussies,” the insider said, explaining that hosts generally do not address such matters. “They’re passionate about their show [and may ask] ‘Who the fuck put this idiot on?’ Because it makes them looks bad.”

But typically, the host, upon learning the topic, says, “Great. Who are the guests?”

See the study…

Month 6 — 16

Oct. 20

Dr. Bob Arnot

Krystal Knapp

Sanjay Gupta

Dr. Seema Yasmin

Jonathan Klein

James Risen

Oct. 12

Sam Harris

Irshad Manji

Actor Jeremy Renner

Director Michael Cuesta

CNN correspondent Irwa Damen

Oct. 5

Michael Isikof

Matt Bai

Claudia Mo

Lenny Bernstein

Dr. Gavin MacGregor-Skinner

Month 5 — 24

Sept. 28

Soledad O’Brien (BLACK)

Mark Mazzetti

Jim Miller

Will Leitch

Jorge Ramos—Spanish news anchor, Univision

Erin Gloria Ryan

Sept. 21

LZ Granderson – CNN commentator

Mark Mravic – Sports Illustrated asst. managing editor (BLACK)

Anthony Weiner

Marshall Curry..doc filmmaker

Mike Maddox –oversees CNN international newsgathering programming

Sept. 14

Dan Rather

Jeff Greenfield

Daniel Benjamin, State Dept. most senior counterterrorism adviser during Obama’s first term.

New York Times Baghdad bureau chief Tim Arango

Rep. Barbara Lee (BLACK)

USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan and former ESPN The Magazine editor Gary Belsky

Sept. 7

Chuck Todd – NBC “MTP”

Ron Fournier — NJ

Katrina vanden Heuvel – The Nation

Ari Fleischer

Bill Burton

Foreign policy analyst Rula Jebreal

Month 4 — 35

Aug. 31

London-based Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary

Josh Rogin

Naomi Wolf

Nancy O’Dell

Patrick Gottsch, the founder and CEO of RFD-TV

AP’s Matti Friedman

Aug. 24

CNNMoney technology correspondent Laurie Segall,

BuzzFeed deputy editor-in-chief Shani Hilton and (BLACK)

Quinnipiac University journalism department chair Kevin Convey

Ryan Devereaux and David Klinger (BOTH WHITE) – talking about Ferguson

Edward Crawford (BLACK) – iconic photo in Ferguson

GlobalPost CEO Phil Balboni and Associated Press CEO Gary Pruit

Dan Rather

Aug. 17

HuffPost’s Ryan Reilly

Al Jazeera America correspondent Ash-har Quraishi editor Crystal Wright (BLACK)

and CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill

Frank Sesno

Jay Rosen

CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson

and photojournalist Mark Phillips

Dr. Gail Saltz

Aug. 10

Sanjay Gupta, CNN

Glenn Beck

Ken Auletta, New Yorker

Anne Barnard, Beirut bureau chief, The New York Times

SE Cupp

James Zogby

Aug. 3

Glenn Beck

Benjamin Wallace-Wells, a staff writer for New York magazine

MSNBC contributor Rula Jebreal

Former Bush administration deputy national security advisor Elliott Abrams

Month 3 –20

July 27

Former MSNBC contributor Rula Jebreal

Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg

CNN’s Chris Cuomo

Maziar Bahari,

Len Downie, former WaPo

Chris Hamby, BuzzFeed

July 20

CNN international anchor Jim Clancy

RT’s Sara Firth

David Carr

Henry Blodget

July 13

Josh Earnest

Kiran Chetry

Judy Woodruff

Dave Weigel

Evan Perez, CNN Justice correspondent

July 6

Lloyd Grove

Julian Zelizer

Zeynep Tufekci and Tal Yarkoni

Former Washington Post reporter Ruben Castaneda

Month 2 — 34

June 29

(Jeffrey Toobin hosting)

Dan Rather

Military analyst Rick Francona and counterterrorism analyst Phillip Mudd

Deborah Norville

June 22

Peter Beinart

Jonathan Landay

Tony Messenger, St. Louis Dispatch

L.Z. Granderson (BLACK)

Linda Sarsour and Brigitte Gabriel

LeVar Burton (BLACK)

June 15

Christina Bellantoni, Jake Sherman, David Leonhardt,

Dylan Byers

Erik Wemple

John Avlon

David Clinch

John Burns

June 8

Gloria Borger

Ryan Lizza

Matt Lewis

Matthew Farwell, Rolling Stone

Mark Leibovich

Amy Chozick

CNN’s Ivan Watson

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos

June 1

Jeff Greenfield

Dave Cullen

Carl Bernstein, WaPo

Mark Leibovich, NYT

Joanna Coles, Cosmopolitan Mag editor-in-chief

Daniel Elisberg

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates (BLACK)

CNN’s Drew Griffin

Month 1 –27

May 25

Sam Foote

Drew Griffin, CNN correspondent

David Folkenflik, NPR

Sarah Ellison, VF

Paul Begala

SE Cupp

Matt Taibbi

May 18

Ken Auletta, The New Yorker

Dylan Byers, Politico, Rebecca Traister, TNR, Lisa Belkin Yahoo! News

Robin Roberts (BLACK)

Anderson Cooper

Jessica Rosenworcel

May 11

Univision’s Maria Elena Salinas

Rep. Mike Rogers

Naomi Wolf

Jeffrey Toobin

Joe Hagan

Jeff Greenfield

May 4

Dana Bash

Glenn Thrush

Carl Bernstein

Matt Trotter, Public Radio Tulsa

Greg Bluestein, AJC

Peter Lauria, BuzzFeed

CNN’s Vladimir Duthiers, reporting from Nigeria on kidnapped schoolgirls, son of Haitian immigrants (BLACK, HAITIAN)